Inside Politics

Dolphin freedom! Cuban solidarity! Alright, NDP policy wonks: It's (nearly) showtime!

Imagine, if you will, the Canada that would emerge from the New Democratic Party policy conference in Montreal this weekend if every single one of the nearly 600 resolutions on the agenda were to pass.

First and foremost, it would be a parliamentary republic (sorry, your future majesties, but in this scenario, we're bailing after the current reigning monarch moves on), democratically maintained through compulsory voting laws, with MPs elected on the basis of proportional representation, although it's not clear exactly what system would be put in place.

A mandatory constitutional review -- including citizen panels and town halls -- would be convened "every 6-8 years."

There would also be a reformed (or, alternately, abolished) Senate, a Bank of Canada that offers interest-free loans to all levels of government and a Canada Post that provides 'postal banking' services.

Canadians would enjoy a 32 hour work week with no mandatory overtime, secure in the knowledge that their health and safety is protected by mandatory gluten labeling, as well as extensive research into the potential risks posed by prolonged exposure to electromagnetic radiation via cell phones and other wireless devices.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization would go back to its roots, celebrating the country's "rich cultural heritage" , liberated from the 'partisan vision of heritage and culture' put forward by a previous government.

Dolphins would frolic freely off the shoreline, unfettered by the bonds of human-imposed captivity, and the curlers of Northern Ontario would breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that their status as a separate rink for Brier qualification purposes would be vigorously protected.

On the international front, full diplomatic relations with Iran would be restored, solidarity with Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba would be reaffirmed and victims of forced marriages would be able to turn to Canadian embassies, consulates and border services for help.

Finally, the NDP website would be redesigned with an eye to presenting the party's "issues, values and objectives ... in a simple and dynamic manner."

Alas for those who may find themselves longing for such utopia, there's little chance that most of the above proposals will make it to the convention floor, let alone into the official policy book.

Before the main event even gets underway, the preliminary list of resolutions is divvied up amongst 7 "resolution panels," which meet behind closed doors on Friday morning in order to allow interested delegates to discuss and vote on as many motions as can realistically be squeezed into the allotted 90 minutes, up to 30 minutes of which could conceivably be taken up by procedural wrangling over whether to tweak the order by amending the priority list as recommended by the resolution committee.

Once that wraps up, the panels report back the results -- specifically, the list of resolutions adopted, tabled, defeated and not dealt with due to lack of mover or seconder* -- which will then be added to the agenda for the 7 corresponding one-hour plenary sessions that will be held over the next two days.

Although in theory, resolutions not passed at the panel stage could make it onto the floor, the time limits -- as noted, just one hour per topic area -- make that an unlikely prospect.

Still, in the interests of preserving, for the record, some of the more offbeat proposals in this year's package, here's a sampling, as harvested from the full package, which, to its credit, the party has posted online in its entirety.

You can peruse the full 123-page list of resolutions right here (PDF), as well as the party-provided guide to the resolution process.

Note: To give you some idea how likely it is that a particular item will make it onto the floor for debate at either the pre-convention panels or the plenary sessions, I've included the ranking number of each, as far as the aforementioned priority list, as well as the total number of resolutions put forward under each of the seven themes.

Panel 1 - Innovating and Prospering in the New Energy Economy (102 resolutions total)

#70 - Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure

Submitted by the Disability Rights Committee

WHEREAS wireless communications and technologies are expanding exponentially, and extensive exposure to electromagnetic radiation is relatively new (generally less than 10 years); and

WHEREAS the long-term effects of long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation on the biology and health of the human body and the environment has not been conclusively determined; and

WHEREAS electromagnetic hypersensitivity is on the increase worldwide;

BE IT RESOLVED that the following clause be added to section 1.13 of the policy book:

[New Democrats believe in:] "x") requiring that Health Canada's regulations on the safety and safe exposure limits of electromagnetic radiation ensure the biological integrity and health of humans and the environment and be based on research conducted by independent and unbiased (unaffiliated with industry) scientists.

#86 - Role of the Bank of Canada

Submitted by Saanich-Gulf Islands

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the New Democratic Party as government take steps as quickly as possible to revive the role of the Bank of Canada for the purpose intended, in the spirit of the 1935 terms, to enable all levels of government to borrow money, essentially interest free, for the benefit of Canada and Canadians;

and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Canadian governments cease to borrow from private banks or other private lending agencies as soon as this Bank of Canada legislation is in place.

#94 The work week

Submitted by Richmond

WHEREAS the Canadian work week is among the longest in the industrialized world, a situation proven to cause increased stress, illness and lower productivity; and

WHEREAS tens of thousands of new jobs would be created if the work week was reduced appropriately;

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP actively campaign to reduce the work week throughout Canada to 32 hours, without loss of pay or benefits to workers, and to outlaw mandatory overtime.

From Panel 2: Building a Clean and Sustainable Canada (53 resolutions total)

#20 Cetacean Captivity

Submitted by Victoria

WHEREAS international scientific research has established the sentience and self-awareness, social complexity and family bonds, and language and culture of cetaceans,

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP Policy Book, section 2.1 is amended by adding the following text:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP commit to ending cetacean captivity and cetacean captive breeding.

From Panel 3: Investing in a Canada Where No One is Left Behind (91 resolutions total)

#29 Mandatory Labeling for Gluten

Submitted by Hochelaga

WHEREAS gluten, genetically modified or not, is a protein present in grains, bread, pasta, and a great number of other prepared foods;

WHEREAS gluten is harmful to the health of a large number of Canadians and costly to the government, notably in terms of healthcare costs;

BE IT RESOLVED that an NDP government would enact legislation requiring labeling to indicate the presence of gluten, in any shape or form, in food products sold in Canada.

From Panel 4 - Redefining Canada's Place in the World (39 resolutions total)

#18 Windmills Near Stanstead

Submitted by the Quebec Section

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP call on the government of Canada to open talks with the U.S. government to give residents of Stanstead a voice in the project study, and for the Canada and U.S. governments to come to an agreement to better regulate projects that affect residents in border areas.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that municipalities and RCMs be included in the consultation process.

#23 Solidarity with Cuba

Submitted by Richmond

WHEREAS the United States government continues to enforce its war-like economic blockade of Cuba, causing increased suffering to the population; and

WHEREAS Cuba's socialized economy, extensive social equity achievements and quality social services ensure that human needs are put first, in stark contrast to rapacious global capitalism; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP express its solidarity with Cuba, encourage party members to visit the island, demand the immediate release of the anti-terrorist Cuban Five framed and imprisoned I n the U.S., demand an end to the U.S. blockade, and end to the U.S. occupation of Guantanamo, and end to U.S.- backed efforts to destabilize and sabotage Cuba's socialist gains and national sovereignty.

#31 Defend Venezuela and Bolivia
Submitted by Richmond

WHEREAS the government led by Hugo Chavez has acted to expand democracy and public services, to improve access to health care, education and land for poor farmers, and to raise general employment, living standards and income levels for the majority of Venezuelans; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP actively campaign to prevent or halt economic, political, and military intervention by the United States and its allies against the people and governments of Venezuela and Bolivia, and call on the government of Canada to oppose any U.S. and allied foreign intervention which undermines the sovereignty of those countries, and further demand that Canada facilitate increased solidarity, improve bilateral relations, and positively recognize the efforts of the Venezuelan and Bolivian peoples to exercise their self-determination.

#39 Restore Relations with Iran

Submitted by Richmond BC, Toronto-Danforth

WHEREAS Iran does not have nuclear weapons; and

WHEREAS the USA and Israel pose a much greater nuclear weapons threat to the Middle East and to humanity; and

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP actively campaign to restore full diplomatic relations between Ottawa and Tehran

From Panel 5: Governing in an Inclusive and Fair Canada (60 resolutions total)

#17 Democratic Senate Reforms

Submitted by Longueuil--Pierre Boucher, Richmond-Arthabaska, Scarborough Centre, Markham-Unionville, Louis- Hébert, Saskatoon--Humboldt, Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette, Blackstrap, Edmonton-Leduc

Whereas in the NDP Policy book of Vancouver 2011, Section 5.2 states:

"New Democrats believe in :

a. Reforming Canada's electoral system through mixed member proportional representation."

b. Ensuring electoral reform is based on a transparent process with wide citizen involvement."

And in this same document, Section 5.3 states: "New Democrats believe in: a. Abolishing the unelected and unnecessary Senate.";

Be it resolved that the NDP shall create a temporary committee (or a temporary commission) which will last until the end of the following biennial national convention, which will study and consult the members of the party and the population on the possible democratic reforms that could be applied to the Canadian Senate.

#37 Making Proportional Representation a Reality

Submitted by Northumberland--Quinte West

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the federal New Democratic Party reaffirms its commitment to reforming Canada's electoral system through a mixed member proportional representation system for Canada.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the federal NDP will make electoral reform and proportional representation a priority issue within Parliament and in communities across Canada.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT this will be a fundamental plank of the next NDP election platform. If an NDP government is elected it will have a strong mandate to make this needed reform a reality within the first year of its mandate

#43 Compulsory Voting in Canada

Submitted by Elmwood-Transcona

WHEREAS the duty to vote is required to maintain our democratic system and the benefits that go with it, and

WHEREAS countries like Australia, and 29 other countries, including Belgium and Austria, successfully employ Compulsory Voting in a congenial system that employs weekend voting, simple registration procedures, and the creation of a centralized, professional bureaucracy concerned with all aspects of election administration,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the New Democratic Party endorse Compulsory Voting as a democratic 'Best Practice' with view to having an NDP Government passing national legislation making it law.

#50 Constitutional Review
Submitted by London--Fanshawe, London West

WHEREAS New Zealand has held periodic constitutional reviews: 2004, 2010 with a constitution ratified in 1986.
WHEREAS Canada has last held talks in 1992, with a constitution ratified in 1982.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the following clause be added to section 5.3 in the policy book:

5.3.f. Initiating a process of Constitutional Review every 6-8 years, through town hall meetings held by
Members of Parliament, examining elements of Canadian democracy and governance
including, but not limited to, the following:
1. electoral reform in the House of Commons
2. future of the Senate: abolish, elected, provincial appointments or status quo
3. powers of Governor-in-Council (Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister),
4. role of direct democracy
5. monarchy or republic
6. increasing voter participation
7. provincial, territorial, linguistic, First Nation, Inuit and Metis, women and other affirmative
action groups representation in Parliament.
Through this process, the findings of this review will be presented in a report to be tabled
before Parliament.

#55 Resolution on a Parliamentary Republic of Canada

Submitted by Chicoutimi-Le Fjord

WHEREAS the NDP aims to create a more equitable and democratic society, with equal rights for all Canadians and a government held accountable to the democratic process;

WHEREAS Canada's current head of state can only be a protestant descended from Sophia of Hanover, and a member of the Church of England;

We hereby move:

That an NDP government would pursue the objective of establishing a parliamentary republic upon the death of the current sovereign.

That an NDP government would form a Commission to recommend a method for choosing a head of state for Canada based on consultation with Canadian experts and citizens.

Panel 6: Strengthening Human Rights and the Canadian Identity (57 resolutions total)

#9 Heritage and Culture

Submitted by Longueuil--Pierre-Boucher

WHEREAS the Harper government is imposing a partisan vision of heritage and culture;

WHEREAS the Harper government is distorting the mandate of the most visited museum in Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, which provides visitors with a window on the world and its diversity;

BE IT RESOLVED that the New Democratic Party commits:

1) Not to use history, culture and heritage for political purposes;

2) To support and celebrate our rich cultural heritage according to the principles of diversity, equality, accessibility and support of creativity.

#24 Postal Banking

Submitted by Ottawa West-Nepean

WHEREAS Canada Post Corporation is a publicly owned utility that is currently being underutilized, WHEREAS the future of the Post Office depends on the expansion of services,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP will work with labour, community groups and other interested parties to develop a plan to implement postal banking and other service expansion at Canada Post.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this plan will be a component of the NDP platform in the 2015 election.

#48 Northern Ontario Curling

Submitted by the Council of Northern Ontario Federal Ridings

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Federal NDP engage with the Canadian Curling Association to ensure that any future changes being considered to the teams qualifying for the Brier do not include dropping Northern Ontario as a separate rink.

Panel 7: Building on Our Momentum (28 resolutions total)

#18 NDP Website

Submitted by LaSalle-Émard

WHEREAS presentation of the fundamental values of a political party on a website is now an essential tool for a political party to recruit new members, donations and support;

BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP website present from now on the issues, values and objectives of the NDP using a few key points presented in a simple and dynamic manner.

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